Other than a few levels with my son in Rayman Origins, I’d never played a Rayman game. When I got Legends for Christmas (my brother did good), it seemed like the perfect game to test drive my PSVita on…considering that I also got the Vita for Christmas (my wife did good).
You are Rayman, among other characters. You and your pals have been asleep for a while, but have been awoken by Murfy as the Bubble Dreamers Nightmares have grown in intensity. The magician from Rayman Origins is also back, and has split into five dark Teensies.
Heck if I know. Frankly, I had to pull most of the synopsis above from Wikipedia.
Rayman Legends is a sidescrolling platformer, so it lives and dies by level design. Luckily, for those of us that have played it, it lives far more often than it dies.
Levels come in one of four different types:
- Standard platforming levels are much what you’d expect from a sidescroller. You advance from point A to point B, overcoming obstacles along the way. This isn’t meant to diminish these levels. They are extremely well designed, even rivaling Nintendo in quality.
- Levels involving touch screen control (on the WiiU and PSVita) in which you control Murfy as he manipulates enemies and obstacles allowing Globox to advance. Globox is CPU controlled, and it can be annoying sometimes when he doesn’t seem to want to do what you need him to do to pick up collectables or discover secrets.
- Rhythm levels that are still platforming levels, but your every move can generally be timed to the music of the level, including jumps and attacks. The songs used are fairly well known. My personal favorite remains Black Betty in the level Castle Rock.
- Invasion levels, which are levels that you have finished, but need to revisit as they’ve been invaded. These are timed levels and, the longer you take, the fewer Teensies you’ll save at the end of the level. After completing the game, some Invasion levels include a Dark/Shadow Rayman that mimics your every move on 2 or 3 second delay. Touch him, and you die. Obviously, these levels require you to sometimes double back, forcing you to avoid Dark/Shadow Rayman.
Legends also has plenty of collectables for you to find in each level. Most standard levels have at least two hidden sections with Teensies, along with eight more to find scattered throughout the level. You will also need to pick up Lums, the number of which will determine your trophy at the end of the level. Teensies can be hidden very well, and can many times be easy to miss, meaning that completionists will need to revisit levels from time to time. Legends is so well designed though, that revisiting a level is rarely a hardship and is oftentimes just a chance to have more fun.
Complementing the new stages in Legends are about 40 levels from Rayman Origins. These are unlocked by obtaining Lucky Tickets that you scratch off. This sounds like a chore, but I had all the Origin Levels opened up when I decided to start playing through them. So long as you collect a decent number of Lums per level, unlocking the Origin levels is a breeze.
Replayability in Legends is addressed as well, with the game featuring weekly challenges. These range from time trials to infinite levels that challenge you to see how far you can progress. Online leader boards let you see how you stack up against other players. It’s a minor addition, but one that spices the game up and continuously adds new tweaks. It is also a reminder of just how mediocre you really are against more dedicated players …moving on.
Rayman Legends is, honestly, one of the best platformers I’ve ever played. It easily stands among the giants such as Mario and Donkey Kong Country. There are levels that feel a little unbalanced, and a few deaths that are almost unavoidable your first time in a level, and that is annoying and detracts from the fun, but never enough so to make you quit the game or to put you off. And seriously, there are only a handful of games that don’t have an annoying portion here or there. At the end of the day, Rayman Legends is a ton of fun and leaves you wanting more. We can only hope that Ubisoft’s next Rayman title can come close to the quality that Legends delivered.